Polish judge persecuted for implementing Court of Justice verdict
Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn, an advocate of judicial independence, is being targeted by appointees of Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro for implementing a CJEU ruling that the PiS-led government disagrees with. Judges and ordinary citizens around Poland have come out to protest in his defence.
No sooner had Paweł Juszczyszyn, a Polish judge from the city of Olsztyn, implemented a recent CJEU verdict than government-friendly Polish media began publishing information about his private life, past verdicts, and even a speeding ticket. All this to portray the judge as a member of a demoralised “caste” that Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro and the PiS-led government are fighting to bring down. The truth of the accusations is, to say the least, up for debate.
“The two faces of Judge Juszczyszyn”, “Judge Juszczyszyn’s verdict ruined a farmer. Family speaks of drama and death”. These are just some of the headlines of articles “exposing” the judge, who was the first justice in Poland to implement the ruling by the CJEU addressing the legality of the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Chamber and the new National Council of the Judiciary.
Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn demanded that the Chancellery of the Sejm hand over the list of signatures of those giving their support to candidates to the new Council, including those backing Maciej Nawacki, president of the Regional Court in Olsztyn and member of the new Council.
A wave of repression was unleashed against Juszczyszyn for his actions. Minister Zbigniew Ziobro recalled him from his delegation to the District Court; the disciplinary officer, installed by Ziobro, launched disciplinary proceedings against him, and the president of the court Maciej Nawacki (himself a member of the new Council, also appointed by Ziobro) suspended him from the bench. However, Juszczyszyn has received strong support from judges and ordinary people from all over Poland, who took to the streets to demonstrate their backing.
Right-wing media outlets immediately began publishing articles “exposing” Juszczyszyn, and their stories were picked up by the government-run TVP Info website. Those stories were then repeated by politicians from PiS. On Thursday, 5 December, the main TVP news bulletin “Wiadomości” broadcast material presenting Juszczyszyn as a hero of the political opposition.
So far, four matters from the defiant judge’s past have been brought to light as part of a move to cast a shadow on his attitude as a judge, and to destroy his image as a defender of the independence of the judiciary.
He is accused of being greedy, and that he is suing his ex-wife for the “500 plus” child benefit. The claims also say he is a reckless driver, that he has falsified documents, and that he erred in a ruling that destroyed a farmer’s livelihood. This is the tip of the repression iceberg.
The entire judicial community is deeply concerned by the campaign of repression being waged against Juszczyszyn for implementing the CJEU verdict. As a gesture of solidarity with the persecuted justice, two deputies of the president of the Olsztyn Regional Court resigned from their posts. They are demanding the dismissal of the court’s president Nawacki, who was responsible for suspending Juszczyszyn from the bench.
[translated by Matthew La Fontaine]